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PROVIDENCE, RI-One of New England’s most famous commercial addresses has been sold, as High Rock Westminster Street LLC pays $33 million for the Bank of America Tower at 111 Westminster St. The 26-story art deco structure is known as the “Superman” building because of its similarity to the Daily Planet tower used as a backdrop in that action hero’s 1950′s television series.

“It’s an unbelievable property,” says NAI Hunneman Commercial Co. VP Jonathan Aron, who joined Hunneman EVP Robert Tito in brokering the off-market transaction between High Rock and the seller, Inland Real Estate Exchange. Besides being an “absolute net-leased” asset thanks to the full-building commitment by Bank of America that runs for another six years, Aron says 111 Westminster St. should benefit from Providence’s continued growth and its prominence as the tallest building in Rhode Island at 458 feet tall. Constructed in 1927, the 350,000-sf building previously served as the corporate headquarters of the Fleet Bank Corp., which was bought out by Bank of America.

Aron credits his client and the buyer for navigating the difficult investment sales climate to follow through on the sale. “We thought it was a good fit for everybody,” Aron says in assessing the outcome. High Rock principal David Sweetser did not respond to inquiries by press deadline, but Aron says he believes there is “great upside” in the deal for the new ownership, which paid about $100 per sf for the tower.

Sweetser is the founder of High Rock Development LLC, a Wellesley, MA-based company experienced in the retail arena. The group last summer launched a new investment fund targeting retail and niche assets. Prior to starting High Rock, Sweetser had been COO of Heritage Property Investment Trust, handling day-to-day operations for a REIT that controlled 32 million sf of shopping center space.

For NAI Hunneman’s middle markets team, the sale is on the high end of its territory, which covers deals between $3 million and $35 million. Aron says the firm is encouraged by the level of activity in the early going of 2008, but adds that team members are trying to identify opportunities similar to 111 Westminster St. where they can match investors with willing sellers who prefer the off-market approach. Net-leased and shopping center deals are among the firm’s specialties.

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